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Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Imagine gratefully sitting down at the table for a classic American Thanksgiving meal, only to notice the glorious turkey is nowhere in sight.
As strange as it sounds, a survey shows there are around 7 million Americans identifying as vegetarians; meaning this Thanksgiving they will intentionally pass on the traditional turkey, ham, and chicken-infused dressing.
If you happen to be in a room of 100 people right now, look around you: Statistics would predict that 3 of those people are vegetarians; meaning they choose not to eat meat.
Cue the Shell family from Nashville, Tennessee. Every time they walk into a room of 97 people, they become the token vegetarians.
How is it possible to have a Thanksgiving meal without any meat? Doesn’t that somehow defeat the purpose of the feast?
Nick Shell, father to 2 year-old Jack and husband to wife Jill, gives some insight on what will be on their Thanksgiving menu this year:
“We have this awesome recipe for vegetarian meat loaf. I know this sounds weird, but you make it with cottage cheese, bran flakes, French onion soup mix, chopped walnuts, and an onion. You mix it up in a big bowl then bake it in muffin tin in muffin form. It so believably tastes like real meat loaf, I often feel guilty when I eat it.”
While many of the Shell family’s daily typical meals are simple and based around whole wheat pasta, they plan to prepare some of their more special recipes for this Thanksgiving.
To accompany their “meat loaf,” they also plan to indulge in “baked spicy fries” and cucumber sandwiches on Jewish Rye bread. Of course, it goes without saying they will have a salad to start off their vegetarian Thanksgiving feast.
It sounds like the Shell family have their menu figured out for this year, but how would things be different if they were guests at someone else’s dinner instead?
“It’s actually not that big of a deal,” Nick explains. “When you live the extreme lifestyle of ‘no meat’ every day, you’re already accustomed to coming up with a Plan B. A lot of times, it becomes our responsibility to bring our Plan B with us to a dinner. We’ll volunteer to being a dish or two that we know will fill us, and that will also contribute to the meal as a whole, so others can enjoy it too.
For our son Jack, we seem to always be carrying out a bag of Cheerios and pouch of pureed veggies with fruit any time we drive him somewhere anyway. Or he can try what we’re having. So we really don’t have to worry about what to feed him; this lifestyle is all he knows. Even at his daycare, he’s used to being the only kid in class to have a separate vegetarian version of what the other kids are eating.”
But even with a fancy vegetarian selection, does a person truly enjoy their Thanksgiving as much as the other 97% of America? Nick shares his perspective on this:
“Honestly, I never really was a big fan of the Thanksgiving meal. For me, I always felt obligated to eat too much turkey and overcooked vegetables, becoming too lazy to escape whatever VH1 countdown was on TV. But now, as a vegetarian, I can be completely full, yet not feel bogged down. In fact, it’s becoming our tradition to go for a long walk after our Thanksgiving meal. Fresh air and sunlight are basically part of the menu too.”
Of course, vegetarians aren’t really limited when it comes to desserts. Sure, marshmallows and pudding are made from the skin and bones of pigs and cows; but other than that, a vegetarian can enjoy pumpkin pie, homemade cookies, and egg nog with the rest of the crowd.
However, if you are of the majority of America who will be eating turkey this Thanksgiving and the concept of a vegetarian Thanksgiving meal does not intrigue you, then there’s one more thing to be thankful for this year:
Be thankful you’re not a vegetarian.
To see the actual recipes of the menu items Nick Shell mentioned today, check out his Pinterest and click on his page called “Proven Vegetarian Recipes.” Then you can make your very own vegetarian meat loaf out of cottage cheese and bran flakes.
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011
Last week when my son turned a year old, he was lucky enough to have his official birthday cupcake three different times. Therefore, I have three different pictures of the event: one with just our family of three, one with his extended party with friends and family, and one at his daycare, KinderCare.
Jack’s main teacher, Ty, had his classmates sign his birthday crown that she made for him. In case you’re wondering, the way toddlers sign things is by using their thumbprint. I have these pictures hanging up now at my cubicle at work. So while I’m listening to some weirdo on the phone tell me his life story, I can look over and catch a glimpse of what life must be like for my son in Baby Land.
I never have to question whether or not Jack is okay there at his daycare or whether or not he’s been well taken care of. After all, I’m not “that dad” who has to suppress my anxieties about my son when a non-family member is taking care of him.
He is okay. He’s more than fine. In fact, I’m pretty solid in knowing that he’s a smarter little boy because of Ty’s guidance and teaching; as compared to if he was under my care for 40 hours a week instead.
Despite an already impressive book collection at our house, we don’t spend nearly as much time as we’d like reading to Jack. But when we do, it’s very apparent that he is accustomed to being read to because of Ty. He sits there and enjoys the book when we read it to him.
Because of Ty, he now knows how to use his thumb and index finger to pick up pieces of food and bring them to his mouth. This same learned skill has also helped him to turn on the Wii when I’m not looking.
Jack has learned to find confidence and independence through Ty’s guidance. I can tell that he not only thinks the world of her, but that he also respects her.
She was telling me last week that when he starts to get into some trouble or into a mess of some sort, she will say, “Jack… no, no.” Then he starts doing his fake cry. But he is learning boundaries from her.
My wife and I are very thankful for Ty taking care of our tyke. (She creatively found ways to avoid my camera in the midst of writing this post.) It’s sad to think that in the near future he will be moving out of her age/stage group. She has been there to see him learn to walk. But the boy must grow up.
Thank God for good teachers who help our kids along the way when we parents can’t be there for every minute of it.
This week I gave Ty a copy of the brand-new book, God’s Promises for the Teacher. It is a new addition to Thomas Nelson’s best-selling God’s Promises series. The book serves as a quick devotional for teachers, using specific motivational Scriptures for 45 different topics including patience, wisdom, peace, and courage.
You guessed it. One lucky reader will win a free copy of God’s Promises for the Teacher to give to a special teacher in their child’s life.
Just be the first person to A) leave a comment on this post saying you want it and B) send me an email including your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Congrats to Wendy P. of Houston, TX on winning this!
Monday, August 1st, 2011
Every year for Thanksgiving, Vanderbilt University gives a free turkey to all of its employees; unless you’re a vegetarian. To be clear, my wife and I are not full vegetarians; though the majority of our meals are indeed meatless.
If this makes any sense, our diet reflects a kosher version of the Mediterranean food pyramid. Needless to say, last November right as our son was about to be born, my wife received her free Tofurky, instead of a regular turkey. However, because he was born so close to Thanksgiving last year, we never cooked our Tofurky.
It has remained in a friend’s freezer for nearly nine months, until this past weekend. We decided to have a very belated Thanksgiving dinner… with a “turkey” made of tofu. But that’s not all. A Tofurky comes with stuffing, gravy, a “jerky wishbone,” and even a chocolate cake dessert.
Since Jack’s 7 o’clock bedtime prevented him from joining the festivities, he instead had some zucchini and pears that my wife prepared for him with our Baby Bullet. Jack will turn one a few weeks before Thanksgiving, so maybe he will get to try some of the real bird… or some of the fake bird, I should say.
So what was I thankful to God for during our Thanksgiving in July this past weekend?
That both my wife and I were able to return to our employers here in Nashville after an eight month sabbatical which we thought was a permanent move. Not only that, but the fact that both of us are truly enjoying our jobs with a newfound appreciation.
That we were able to get Jack into a really good daycare which is right down the block from where I work.
That despite my wife’s car breaking down for the 14th time, we didn’t get totally stranded in the process; and that my parents are letting us borrow a car from them until we can get my wife’s car fixed.
I am thankful for friends who are gracious enough to allow my family of three to stay with them for the next couple of months until our renters move out of our condo.
And of course, I am thankful for my wife and son whom I can share a July Thanksgiving meal which includes an eight month old Tofurky. Thank God for them and all that God has taught me through them so far.
Now that July has passed, I need to get ready for Christmas in August…
Categories: Health, Home Life, Spirituality, Story Bucket, Storytelling | Tags: Baby Bullet, diet, food, God, July, July 2011, kosher, Mediterranean food pyramid, Thanksgiving, tofu, Tofurky, turkey, Vanderbilt University, vegetarian